Health and Safety Concerns Put Jobs in Question
By Hilary Lewis
May 20, 2014
Oil and gas companies love to wax lyrical about all the jobs they create while calling environmentalists 'anti-jobs', but recent studies have called the quality of oil and gas jobs into question.
To be clear, Earthworks is for jobs.
We are for sustainable (safe, well paying, community sourced) jobs.
According to The Solar Foundation the solar industry alone directly employed 142,698 Americans as of November 2013 (The American Wind Energy Association reports 50,500 FTE jobs), and employment in solar is growing 10x faster than national average employment growth. These jobs are:
- Safe: Renewable energy is better for workers' health and safety according to a paper published in the The Journal of the American Medical Association.
- Well paying: About half of solar jobs are as installers, who on average make $23/hour, more than triple the federal minimum wage.
- Community sourced: To compliment the growing demand, there have been a number of 'green-collar' job trainings to help find and train community based workers.
The renewable energy sectors are creating jobs, and they're jobs workers need and want.
The jobs the oil and gas industry are creating are often unsafe, outsourced, dirty jobs:
- Unsafe: A new report from the AFL-CIO ranked North Dakota dead last for workplace safety with 15 deaths reported by the mining and oil and gas industry and another 25 in construction, which may include related jobs. On the road, traffic deaths in 6 states with fracking/drilling have also gone up, more than quadrupling since 2004 in some places, according to an AP report. And of course directly at fracking sites there are serious health risks. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NOISH) is now investigating worker fatalities during flowback related to chemical exposure. Related industries like frac sand mining have also reported worker health impacts, but remain unregulated by OSHA.
- Outsourced: Republican Governor John Kasich said he has "evidence that we're gathering" that oil and gas companies in Ohio aren't hiring Ohioans. And it's not just Republican governors with evidence. A report from the Pennsylvania College of Technology and Penn State found that in early stages of development as many as 70‐80% of Marcellus shale employees in Pennsylvania are from outside the state.
- Dirty: I actually don't mean literally (though that too)... for mature audiences only. Industry numbers on employment have also been shown to include indirect employment in prostitution, stripping etc.
So the next time someone tells you or your fracktivist friend that 'we need the jobs' or 'you're anti-jobs' have your facts ready. We are for jobs.
P.S. While this blog is about quality jobs, clean-energy also produces more jobs, dollar for dollar, than fossil fuel-related activities.
For more information:
- PERI, University of Massachusetts-Amherst and Center for American Progress Green recovery: A Program to Create Good Jobs and Start Building a Low-Carbon Economy
- Pennsylvania College of Technology and Penn State Extension Pennsylvania Statewide Marcellus Shale Workforce Needs Assessment
- AFL-CIO Death on the Job Report
- AP Deadly side effect to fracking boom
- The Journal of the American Medical Association Expansion of Renewable Energy Industries and Implications for Occupational Health